Hot Auto Market Fuels Credit Union Lending in Northwest

Auto sales are rebounding to post recession highs in the Northwest. The Washington State Economic and Revenue report listed nearly 279,000 vehicle registrations in June and July. In Oregon, Autodata Corp and Ward’s AutoInfoBank reported sales of nearly 8 million vehicles—the strongest showing since before the recession.

Auto lending remains a cornerstone of credit unions’ loan portfolio, making up 32% of Northwest credit unions’ loan balance.

An analysis of Q1 data found Bremerton Washington’s Kitsap Credit Union had already made $241 million in new vehicle loans while Eugene-based Oregon Community and Richland, Wash. based Gesa had already each made over $227 million in new vehicle loans.

Richland based Hapo Credit Union had $585 million in total vehicle loans on the balance sheet by the end of Q1, and reported business continued to boom throughout the summer. By the end of July, Hapo had written $216 million in auto loans financed through dealerships in Southeast Washington. Auto loans account for slightly more than half of Hapo’s loan activity.

“We feel fortunate to be in a geographic location where the economy is very strong. Many credit unions here can meet the demands of the public with auto loans,” said Scott Mitchell, Hapo’s vice president of lending.

Mitchell said Southeast Washington’s economy is strong, thanks to jobs provided by a diverse agriculture industry and the Hanford Nuclear Site. That economy is fueling a “very strong consumer demand for automobiles” and Hapo is among credit unions able to leverage the activity because of good relationships with auto dealerships, allowing buyers to finance their cars on site.


Questions? Contact Lynn Heider: 503.350.2225,

Posted in Economy.